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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 May 2006, 23:53 GMT 00:53 UK
Rapping for glory at Eurovision
By Michael Osborn
BBC News entertainment reporter

Love City Groove

At this year's Eurovision Song Contest in Athens, the UK is pinning its hopes on rapper Daz Sampson's song Teenage Life.

But it isn't the first time that urban music has graced the event.

Back in 1995, the UK had not won Eurovision for 14 years, and the voting public chose a song with little resemblance to the contest's standard fare of solid ballads and perky pop tunes.

Love City Groove's soulful, laid-back track had some rapid-fire vocals courtesy of rapper Jay Williams and female band member Reason.

But their performance was not helped by the backing of a full orchestra, and the Eurovision juries' reaction was decidedly mixed.

Bold choice

With two "douze points" from France and Austria but nine countries ignoring them, Love City Groove finished 10th.

It appeared the UK's bold choice had not paid off, but back home the song reached a respectable number seven in the singles chart.

Bosnia's 1999 rapper Dino

The failure of Love City Groove to sweep to victory with their contemporary sound was not enough to kill off rap at the contest.

In 1997, Denmark sent Kolig Kaj to Dublin with a song about a man who falls in love with the telephone operator.

The performance, which had to be in Danish, picked up just 25 points and trailed in 16th, a very long way from the UK's Katrina and The Waves, who coasted to glory with a solid, anthemic pop tune.

Two years later and the Eurovision Song Contest entered a new era, where the orchestra was replaced by backing tracks, and entrants could sing in any language.

Dour delivery

Bosnian Dino Dervishalidovic went to Jerusalem only after the winners of the country's national final were disqualified.

His dour delivery of a rap in Bosnian and a simple chorus in French was a success. It landed him seventh place and remains Bosnia's best Eurovision result to date.

In 2005, Eurovision travelled east to Kiev, and Ukraine's effort in front of a home crowd contained an element of rap and a dose of controversy.

Polish band Ich Troje
The Real McCoy (third left) adds rap to Poland's song this year

Greenjolly's song Razom Nas Bagato! was an anthem of the country's Orange Revolution in 2004, but its political content had to be toned down so it would not flout contest rules.

The gritty song caused a storm in Kiev's Palace of Sports, but failed to make an impact on Eurovision voters, finishing a distant 19th and relegating Ukraine to this year's qualifying round.

Daz Sampson's performing style will not be entirely alone in Athens - there is a taste of rap in both Poland and Moldova's entries too.

And while the odds of rap succeeding at Eurovision may not be favourable, the UK performer has a good chance of standing out from the crowd in Greece.

The semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest takes place on 18 May and will be screened on BBC Three at 2000 BST. The grand final, on 20 May, will be shown on BBC One from 2000 BST.


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